- Origin: Qingdao
- Destination: Jinan East
- Distance: 390km
- Travel Time: 2:25
We caught a bus to Qingdao railway station and bought our tickets for later. Express trains leave Qingdao frequently for Jinan, so we weren’t worried about ticket availability. We left our luggage at a luggage storage business, inconveniently located at the bottom of a long set of stairs in the basement of the station forecourt.
After buying our tickets, we went to see the sights of Qingdao. We visited the leafy Consulate Precinct with its Western style villas and large gardens, followed by the house Chiang Kai Sheck (the leader of the Guo Min Dang) lived in before his exile to Taiwan. The house is a villa built on cliffs overlooking the sea. It was built in the 19th century by a wealthy Russian merchant. With its stained glass windows and ornate winding staircases, it looks as if it belongs in the English countryside rather than in a Chinese port city.
We caught an interesting bus back to the station; it was battery powered. Outside, it looked just like any other diesel bus, but it was silent when stopped. When it moved, it sounded very futuristic as the electric motors whined into action and acceleration was very smooth and strong. I had seen plenty of electric trolley buses in China, but this was the first battery powered bus.
We arrived back at the station and dragged our luggage up the stairs from the subterranean storage. Qingdao’s railway station (formerly known as Sifang after the suburb in which it is located) is different to most other Chinese stations. It is a stone building with an arched roof and a pointed clock tower, with a distinctive European look. It was designed and built by the Germans who occupied Qingdao during World War II. The Germanic influence is evident throughout much of Qingdao’s architecture from this era.
Our train was a 8 car 5th series CRH (China Rail Highspeed). CRH5 trains are painted in the CRH livery of white with a dark blue stripe below the window line. They have a maximum speed of 250 km/h, but as a result of an accident several years ago, D trains are restricted to a service speed of 200 km/h.
We boarded the train, and found our seat in car 3 (second class). Second class cars of CRH trains have 2+3, cloth covered reversible seating. A tray table folds down from the back of the seat in front, and the seats recline. Overhead TV monitors show news and advertising in Chinese and an LED information display at the end of each car shows car number, train number, next stop, current speed and outside temperature. There are overhead luggage racks and individual reading lamps. Leg room is generous and there is an electrical outlet in each foot well. First class is not much different, but has 2+2 seating and individual audio units for each seat. There is also a little more room between the seats. There is a canteen in car 6, as well as a trolley service which regularly makes its way through the train. Cars 3 and 6 have a pantograph on the roof to collect the 25kv AC feed.
We were soon underway, and quickly reached our cruising speed of 200 km/h as we fly through the suburbs of Qingdao. Our quad tracks ran parallel with a metro line under construction, and we passed many small stations, currently served by K and other slow trains, which will be served by the Qingdao Metro once it opens. D trains only stop at major stations, and we made only 2 stops (Weifang and Zibo) on our 390km journey before arriving at Jinan East.